The Great Eight
ElevationAscent: 2,497' 761 m
Descent: -2,511' -765 m
High: 3,847' 1,173 m
Low: 2,459' 750 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 37% (20°)
Popular rides nearby
Horse Cove Gap Loop
11.6 mi 18.7 km • Loop • 1,290 ft Ascent 393.19 m Ascent
Pisgah Stage Race - Stage 4
32.4 mi 52.1 km • Loop • 3,778 ft Ascent 1151.68 m Ascent
Bennett Gap Loop
6.6 mi 10.6 km • Loop • 1,299 ft Ascent 395.93 m Ascent
Pisgah Stage Race - Stage 3
31.4 mi 50.5 km • Loop • 5,727 ft Ascent 1745.44 m Ascent
Pisgah Stage Race - Stage 1
22.2 mi 35.7 km • Point to Point • 3,788 ft Ascent 1154.47 m Ascent
Gravel Grind to Farlow Gap Loop
11.3 mi 18.3 km • Loop • 2,346 ft Ascent 715.02 m Ascent
“A rollicking sampler of Pisgah riding.”— J. Matt
Electric Mountain Bikes Not Allowed
Need to Know
A unique Apres Velo choice in spring, summer, and fall for nosh and beverages is the Pisgah Inn (closed November-March). There's a new outdoor area with a take-out window, rocking chairs, and a world-class view of the forest you've just crushed. Great burgers, local brew, and reasonable prices considering.
It's steep to start but levels after the first mile or so. If you get a hankering, there're views of Looking Glass Rock behind you. Ride until the road ends and then go right on Horse Cove Gap Trail #325 to the right. Descend the rocks and roots until you hit Squirrel Gap Trail (#147). Go left for about 10 feet and look for Horse Cove Gap Trail #325 to continue off to the right.
Continue down the goat track of Horse Cove Gap Trail #325 until the trail merges with Cantrell Creek Trail. After a short additional bit of descending, Cantrell ends at South Mills River Trail (#133) (Cantrell was rerouted in 2019, and much of the lower portion merged with Horse Cove Gap - this route didn't change, but the trail names did). Go left on South Mills River Trail (#133) (which is actually just going straight) and enjoy a chance to recover except for the suspension bridges which are super sketchy. The second suspension bridge is best to avoid and just walk across the river because you're soaked by now anyway.
Begin a series of brief, short climbs and look for Mullinax off to the left. Climb until it merges with Squirrel Gap Trail (#147). This is a long, tough climb with some brief walking sections. Climb until you hit Laurel Gap and take a break. The section of Squirrel Gap Trail (#147) between here and Cantrell Creek is a rock garden and you'll work. Cross Horse Cove Gap Trail #325 and continue on Squirrel Gap Trail (#147) to the terminus at South Mills River Trail (#133).
Cross a not-so-sketchy suspension bridge at the bottom and begin a long mellow climb up South Mills River Trail (#133). Bear right where Buckhorn Gap Trail (#103) begins continuing on South Mills River Trail (#133). Continue to the end of South Mills River Trail (#133) and finish the ride back on South Mills River Road.
History & Background
Land Manager: USFS - Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Ranger District